Some top choices for clayshooters to be considering
Forty or so years ago when clayshooting wasn’t as big as it is now shooters used whatever cartridges were around.
Then clayshooting started to really catch on and now there is a whole host of cartridges specially designed for smashing clays. Dedicated competition cartridges are available for 12-bore, 20-bore, .410 and even 28-bore. There are also general- purpose clay cartridges and others designed for specific disciplines like trap and skeet.
When you are deciding which cartridge to go for it is always a case of choosing what suits your own gun.
Picking out the best clayshooting cartridges to review
The clay-shooting cartridges listed here are the products of just six companies. Excepting the new Eley VIP Steel Pro Eco, we have picked just two cartridges – a 28g general competition load, and a light load suitable for shooters who are particularly affected by recoil. Some of this latter group are subsonic, so are also suitable for use on shooting grounds which have problems with excessive noise.
Note that all online prices, from Just Cartridges, were accurate at the time of writing. Online prices are usually cheaper than those charged by local gun shops but you may find local sources more convenient. The choice is yours.
Gamebore markets an interesting range and using colourful packaging with often memorable descriptions. How about Black Gold-Dark Storm? That apart, the company has a good reputation where it matters, performance. Gamebore’s clay cartridges cover 12-bore lead and steel shot and subsonic, also 20-bore and .410.
Gamebore advertise this medium-priced cartridge as suitable for training and competition. In other words, it seems good for club clays. It is assembled in a 70mm case with an 8mm head, and there’s a choice of plastic or fibre wads. Shot sizes are 7.5 and 8. Claimed muzzle velocity is 1,420 feet per second. The cartridge is also available in 21, 24 and 28gms loadings.
EVO LOW NOISE
This is the lightest-recoiling cartridge in the range. The 28gr of No. 8 shot is loaded in a 65mm case with a fibre wad. Muzzle velocity is subsonic, so it’s suitable for slightly-built people, youngsters or on grounds where there is a noise problem. Why is it more expensive than the supersonic load? Probably due to the numbers game – the demand for subsonic cartridges is comparatively small.
Voted Clay Cartridge of the Year 2019 in the Shooting Awards. This cartridge is designed specifically for the sporting disciplines. It has a 28gr load of shot with five per cent antimony – which gives lead extra hardness. Plastic and fibre wads are available and muzzle velocity is 1,400 feet per second. Hull designed the cartridge with the help of 2014 World FITASC champion and top coach Ed Solomons.
COMP X 21GR
This cartridge has received high praise in the Shooting UK forum and it has also been voted Clay Cartridge of the Year. With a muzzle velocity of 1,4235 feet per second it is quite fast, but recoil is gentle. Shot sizes 7.5 and 9 are available. Case length is 65mm, with plastic or fibre wads.
Offers a steel alternative when you are clayshooting. The editor of Sporting Gun reviewed it and concluded: “A new cartridge that is pushing the boundaries of ballistics.”
The Olympic Blues packet used to feature a picture of Jackie Stewart, who, at the time, was as famous as a trap shooter as he was Formula One driver. The standard competition load in those days was 1 1/8oz and in the 1980s Sporting Gun and Eley did much to popularise the use of 1oz (28gr) loads. It was not long before the CPSA made 28gr mandatory for domestic disciplines. “Blues” are now available in 24 and 28gr loadings, with either plastic or fibre wads. Cases are 70mm and the claimed muzzle velocity is 1,400 feet per second.
This is Eley’s subsonic cartridge and the clay-shooting load of 28gr is assembled in a 67mm case. Shot size is 7.5. Eley claim the muzzle velocity is 1,050 feet per second, so it’s going to be quiet as well as very low in recoil. The Eley Hush Power subsonic cartridge which I tested in a sound-moderated 20-bore was impressive for its quietness; the strike of shot on the pattern plate was more audible than the report from the gun.
Lyalvale Express has enjoyed some great competition successes and has seen success in the Shooting Industry Awards. Its Super Comp comes in versions suitable for all clay disciplines, with a shot choice of 7, 7.5, 8 and 9. The cartridge is loaded in a 70mm case, and has a muzzle velocity of 1,450 feet per second.
SUPER LIGHT 21GR
This is one of three 21gr clay loads made by Lyalvale Express. It is loaded in a 65mm case, with either plastic or fibre wads, and muzzle velocity is 12,400 feet per second. Shot size is 7.5, while 8 and 9 size shot is available in the 24gr version.
The RC company was formed in Italy in 1971, originally as Romagna Caccia. With the Italian preoccupation with the trap disciplines it is good to see a clayshooting cartridge which, in its shot sizes of 7.5, 8 and 9.5 is suitable for trap, sporting and skeet.
The cartridge is loaded in a 70mm case with plastic wads. Muzzle velocity is 1,400 feet per second.
This is RC’s lightest competition load, available in plastic or fibre-wadded versions with size 7.5 shot. Muzzle velocity is 1,425 feet per second.
The Fiocchi company (Fiocchi Munizioni S.p.A.) was founded in 1876, in the town of Lecco close to the spectacular Italian lakes.
It is famous for civilian and military rifle and pistol ammunition as well as for shotgun cartridges for clays and field shooting.
The TT1 28gr load is available in plastic and fibre-wadded versions loaded in 767mm cases. Shot sizes are 7.5, 8 and 9 and muzzle velocity is 1,435 feet per second.
This is still a pretty hot load, but is worth trying if you find 28gr a bit too heavy on recoil. Case length is 70mm with 7.5 shot and plastic wads. Muzzle velocity is 1,450 feet per second.